Thursday, October 29, 2015

RCI Developing 275-kgf Thrust Cruise Missile Engine

GTRE developed Manik 425-kgf thrust turbojet at Aero India 2015

RCI is developing a 275 kgf thrust Small Gas Turbine Jet Engine (SGTJE) to power a UCAV capable of cruising at 0.8M at SL. 

RCI will take assistance from NAL's Propulsion Division for design and analysis, engine cycle analysis and configuration of the turbojet engine. 

RCI has also sought private sector, Indian or foreign, participation in the detailed design of the 275-kgf thrust SGTJE. 

Project duration is specified as one year from project start.

Possible Application

The engine is required to be air start capable suggesting it is being developed for a cruise missile. The 275-kgf thrust requirement suggests a relatively smaller, possibly air launched, cruise missile. 

It maybe noted that the Nirbhay, powered by a 500-kgf thrust Saturn engine, would hopefully be replaced by the 425-kgf Manik engine being developed by GTRE. 

Other Cruise Missile Engine Projects

Besides RCI and GTRE, HAL is also developing a 400-kgf thrust Small Gas Turbine for Strategic Application,, based on the PTAE-7 which powers the Lakshya PTA.

IDP Sentinel members can read additional details and specifications of the SGTJE at the link below

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rustom-2 MALE UAV Update

Rustom-2 1:1 scale model at DefExpo - 2014
DRDO plans to display a Rustom-2 1/3 rd scale model during Republic Day 2016 and has released a RFP for building the model.

Based on the dimensions of the model published in a RFP, the Rustom-2 MAL UAV has a wingspan of 20.4m and length of 10.1m.

In comparison, IAF's Israeli developed Heron MALE UAV, which the Rustom-2 is being developed to replace, has a wingspan of 16.6m and length of 8.5m.

Rustom-2 1/3 rd scale model dimensions

It remains to be seen if the Rustom-2's larger dimensions translate into better performance and capabilities. DRDO says the Rustom-2 would be able to carry 350-kg payload against the Heron's 250-kg, but the single engine Heron has a marginally better (40hr vs 35hr) endurance.

The Rustom-2 will have a strike capability. It will loiter autonomously at high altitudes performing ISR with its SAR nd EO sensors. When a target is identified, it will either illuminate the target with a laser designator for other strike aircraft, or descend to lower altitude and attack the target with its own air-to-surface missiles.

DRDO's decision to display the scale model raises hopes of a first flight in the near future. DRDO had initially hoped to test fly a manually piloted variant of the UAV by June 2014. It now appears that the test flight program has been pushed back till a ATOL is developed for better flight safety.

For additional information visit the link below

Rustom-2 MALE UAV (IDP Sentinel)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Indo-US Partnership for Developing Aircraft Carrier, Hot Engines - AMCA Go Ahead Likely?

AMCA Wind Tunnel Test Model at Aero India 2015

Following an in principle agreement between India and the US to cooperate in jet engine and aircraft carrier design and construction under DTTI, arrived at during US President Obama’s visit to India in January 2015, the two nations have been discussing the scope and modalities of the cooperation.

Two rounds of discussions are known to have been held already, more are planned.

Surprisingly, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal, in her recent address to the annual meeting of Association of the US Army, said, "We're now helping India develop aircraft carrier and jet engine technology as part of our Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, which Secretary Carter launched back in 2012."

Her statement suggests that cooperation has already started. If it has, it's probably based on a level of agreement already reached.

While the Aircraft Carrier development cooperation would focus on EMALS, the agreement on jet engine technology would focus on a hot engine power plant for the AMCA based on the F414 Enhanced Performance Engine (EPE).

If the Assistant Secretary's statement is indeed true, it is possible that the Indian government will soon sanction and fund the AMCA project, clearing the way for preliminary design of the aircraft to commence.

The AMCA configuration has been frozen in consultation with the IAF. The project was awaiting choice of an engine.

The finalization of the AMCA power-plant would explain the IAF Chief's optimism on the AMCA, evident during his recent press conference.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dhruv Flight Safety Record

Dhruv ALH at Aero India 2015

Around 200 Dhruvs have been inducted into the AFs since 2001.

The helicopter, which was conceived as a multi-role helicopter, is now limited in its operational role because of excess weight and limited engine power.

The Dhruv fleet has been grounded several times due to technical snags.

The Indian Army has experienced at least 18 accidents since 2002.

According to MoD (July 2015), since the induction of the helicopter in AFs in year 2001, 08 (Eight) major accidents (write offs) have taken place, all of which, have been investigated by a Court of Inquiry as per extant instructions. Necessary modifications/upgradations have been carried out, on the basis of past experience, to cater to Defense Forces’ requirements.

Below is an incomplete listing of Dhruv accidents compiled by IDP Sentinel

  1. One IAF ALH crashed near Sitapur of Lucknow area at about 1657 hrs on July 25, 2014. The Helicopter was airborne from Bareilly at 1553 hrs and was on a mission to Allahabad. The Pilot gave a 'may-day' call and soon after that there was a loss of contact on radar and on radio. A total of seven air warriors including two pilots were on board. There were no survivors.
  2. In February 2014, an ALH Dhruv chopper exported to Ecuador crashed in Ecuador killing three people on board.
  3. A Dhruv crash-landed in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district on February 28, 2010 while rehearsing for ‘Vayu Shakti’ air power exercise.The helicopter was part of the Sarang helicopter display team of the IAF; the team was rehearsing for a display on the opening day of the exercise. The two pilots escaped unhurt after making crash-landing.
  4. A Dhruv crashed during a military parade in Ecuador in October 2009 injuring its two Equadorian pilots. The Dhruv was one of  the five helicopters sold to Ecuador in March 2009. The accident took place over Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport during formation flying along with two other helicopters. The crew, who were trained in India, managed to get out of the crashed helicopter on their own and were taken to hospital.
  5. A Dhruv ALH of the Sarang display team crashed at Air Force Station Yelahanka in February 2007 killing one of its pilot and badly injuring the other.
  6. In November 2005, an ALH being ferried to Jharkhand crashed near Hyderabad after the tail rotor sheared off. Following the crash, the Indian Armed Forces grounded the Dhruv fleet; the crash was eventually attributed to the use of date expired resin in the composite tail rotor.
  7. In November 2004 an ALH delivered to the Royal Nepal Army experienced a hard landing damaging its undercarriage and landing gear. 

Equadorian Air Force Crashes

Four out of the 7 Dhruvs delivered to the Equadorian Air Force were involved in crashes. Two of the crashes (enumerated above) resulted in the helicopter being written off. Of the four crashes, 2 were attributed to pilot error and 2 to mechanical failure.

Design Flaws

According to the ET, an Indian CAG report has pointed that ALH crashes have taken place due to a design flaw that leads to a loss of control when it is being rolled back from a left turn.

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the Dhruv at the link below.

Dhruv - Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) - IDP Sentinel

Friday, October 16, 2015

Russia's Kalibr-NK / SSN-30A Cruise Missile - The Deets

3M-14 / 3M-54 export variant missiles at DefExpo 2014
On October 7, 2015, Russian Gepard-class frigate Dagestan, and three other Russian Navy destroyers launched 26 Kalibr-class cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea at 11 targets in Syria.

The Russian ministry of defense posted the following video that purportedly shows Kalibr-NK cruise missiles being launched from ships deployed in the Caspian sea.

The range of the targets from the launch point in the Caspian sea exceeds 500-km.

The minister of defense told the president that the actual range was "more than 1,500 km."

According To Sputnik News the missiles traveled 1,500 km through Iranian and Iraqi airspace and struck terrorist positions in Raqqa, Aleppo and Idlib provinces, reportedly destroying all.

Sputnik News reports that the missile was first launched in 2012. It can travel 50 to 150 meters above the ground and hit sea targets up to 350 kilometers away and ground targets more than 2,500 kilometers away. Their maximum deviation from the designated target is only three meters.

The name Kalibr-NK suggests that the missile is a variant of the 3M-54 / 3M-14 Kalibr (NATO designation SSN-27A 'Sizzler') family of missiles that equip Russian Navy submarines and surface ships.

The 3M-54 is the anti shipping variant and the 3M-14, the LACM variant. The surface ship launched variant of the 3M-54 is called 3M-54T, and the surface ship launched variant of the 3M-14 is called 3M-14T.

The 3M-54/3M-14 (anti-shipping) missile variants have a 200 kg (440 lb) warhead and range of 440-660 km (270-410 mi). The missiles fly at supersonic speed in the terminal phase to reduce target reaction time.

As compared to the surface launched 3M-54T, the submarine launched 3M-54 is shorter (8.22m vs 8.9m).

The 3M-14 missile has a 450 kg (990 lb) warhead, a range of 1,500-2,500 km (930-1,550 mi), and subsonic terminal speed of Mach 0.8.

The submarine launched variant 3M-14 is significantly shorter at 6.2 m (20 ft) than the 8.9m (29 ft) 3M-14T, but other specs are the same.

Export variants of the 3M-54/3M-54T (Kalibr) are designated 3M-54E/3M-54E1 (Klub). Similarly, the export variant of the 3M-14/3M-14T are designated 3M-14E/3M-14E1 (Klub).

All export variants are restricted to 300 km range.

Washington Post reports that Russia conducted a flight test of the NK-Kalibr on September 11, 2015, a month before firing the missiles from the Caspian Sea. The NATO designation for the missile, which has capabilities similar to the US Navy Tomahawk, is SSN-30A (3M-14T). During the test, the missile traveled some 2,000 kilometers, or about 1,200 miles.

The missile was tested earlier in August 2015, at which time US officials said it was nearing deployment. The new missile can be armed with either nuclear or conventional warheads.

According to some western reports, four of the missiles launched against targets in Syria malfunctioned and landed in Iran. Russia and Iran have rubbished these reports.

Operational use of Kalibr-NK has prompted NATO military intelligence analysts to upgrade its status to "deployed."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IAF's FGA Project Entering a Death Spiral?


The list of the IAF's reservations over the PMF/FGFA project is growing longer by the day, and is probably long enough to put the project in serious jeopardy. What is more disturbing, the list is starting to include inane items! Also, items on the list are now being leaked to the press by senior IAF officials, something that was not heard of in the past. Leaks, unlawful as they are, were earlier the prerogative of MoD babus who are apparently above the law.

Here is the list of IAF reservation against the FGFAm in reverse chronological order of leaks

  1. Russia has not been given a tentative per unit production cost for the aircraft and the IAF is wary that the cost may turn out to be exorbitant. 
  2. Russia has still not been able to develop the Product 30 engine that will power the FGFA. Without the engine, the aircraft cannot super cruise.
  3. Russia has not offered any weapons developed specifically for the FGFA. The weapons offered so far were developed for 4th gen fighters like the Su-30M and Su-34. These weapons are too large for the internal weapon bay of the PAK-FA and would need to be carried externally compromising the aircraft's low observability.
  4. Russia has so far not allowed IAF test pilots to test fly the PAK-FA.
  5. India has sought 27 technical clarifications on the joint project, but Russia has reverted only on 19.
  6. IAF wants Russia to commence delivery of the FGFA within 36 months of signing the development contract for the customized variant of the PAK-FA, instead of 94 months agreed to by Russia.
  7. India wants a larger work share in developing the FGFA.

I will let the reader decide which of these points, if any, are inane; and which possibly serious show stoppers. For example, is the IAF request to test fly the aircraft at this stage of its development reasonably? Would the US or France meet such an IAF request?

The IAF Chief in his press conference on October 4, 2015 stated, " "There are some issues which have cropped up in terms of the work share, in terms of the present technological and technical aspects of the PAK-FA, and of course the cost visibility. So these are the issues we are looking at and they have been taken up at the highest level."

Facts Check

I present here some public domain facts that the reader may like to factor in before making a call on the relevance of IAF concerns.

Cost Visibility

The PAF-FA is under development and is unlikely to be ready for export till 2020. The Rafale has been operational for over a decade and India has committed to purchase 36 Rafales. There is no cost visibility on the Rafale yet, but ironically the Air Chief says the IAF wants to buy 100 more Rafales!

Weapons for Internal Bay

Russia is in the process of developing air-to-ground weapons small enough to fit into the T-50's internal bomb bay.

At MAKS-2015 Russia's Tactical Missiles Corporation (TMC) unveiled three new or derivative weapons developed specifically to fit the internal weapon bays of the T-50:

  1. GROM E1/E2 guided, standoff weapon
  2. X-59Mk2 cruise missile  
  3. X-58USHKE/IIR stand-off anti-radiation attack missile

The H-59MK2 Grom is a stealthy turbofan engine powered cruise missile, a heavily upgraded version of the H-59 family missiles.

All three are advanced weapon systems that the western world would like to know more about. Is it realistic for the IAF to expect Russia to share weapon details and cost at this stage? Would the IAF expect the same from the US or France?

FGFA Powerplant

The initial batch of the T-50 fighters will be powered by the 14.5 tons thrust NPO Saturn AL-41F1 (Product 117) engines, the upgraded version of AL-41F1S engine developed for Su-35, which in turn is a derivative of the NPO Saturn's AL-31F series that power the Su-27/Su-30 family of fighters.

Moscow-based Salut and NPO Saturn are building a brand new stealthy powerplant for the T-50, which is not a derivative of the AL-41F1 (Product 117) engine that powers it. Called Product 30, the new engine will be 30% lighter than the Product 117 engine and come with 30% lower life-cycle cost.

The new engine is expected to offer about 17.5 tons (171.6 kn) of thrust in full after burning mode and somewhere in the range of 12 tons (117.7 kn) in dry mode, allowing the aircraft to comfortably super-cruise at around Mach 1.5.

In June 2015 it was reported that United Engine Building Corporation (UEBC) has built a prototype of the new engine. Two prototypes of the engine are scheduled to be built in 2015.

UEBC CEO Vladislav Maslov had earlier said that work on developing the stage-2 will be completed in 2020.

Is Russia really the problem in the unraveling FGFA deal?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

IJT Sitara - Cheering News follows Disinformation Campaign?

HJT-36 Sitara at Aero India 2011

HAL is set to spin test the HJT-36 Sitara later this month, possibly paving the way for serial production of the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) for the IAF.

"Today, we are confident that that every problem has found a solution. The aircraft that is going to come out of all this is going to be really worth flying,” HAL Chairman & Managing Director T. Suvarna Raju told The Hindu.

“We expected to spin the aircraft about eight months ago and clear it for series production. We could not spin or stall the aircraft. It is a very crucial job that should be done very carefully, as there is a lot of risk for men and material," Raju added.

Spin clearance will mean HAL can start planning series production “and we are confident of it (success),” Raju said.

Series production of the Sitara would be a huge Make-in-India landmark and dramatically change HAL's image of a poorly performing state funded aerospace giant.

Rookie IAF pilots are trained to safely recover their aircraft from a stall or a spin, both low speed flight conditions under which the aircraft's response to control inputs is not instinctive. Stall and spin recovery training can only be imparted if the trainer aircraft's flight characteristics during stall and spin are easily recognizable by the trainee pilot, and the recovery from both the conditions is safe and sure.

Sitara's development had come to a halt because it would stall too early and its pre-stall flight characteristics were confusing and unsafe.

HAL engaged BAE as consultants to tweak the aircraft's design to make its stall characteristics acceptable. BAE reportedly recommended redesign of the Sitara's tail. HAL validated the BAE suggested redesign many times with mathematical modelling and wind tunnel tests before incorporating the recommended changes.

The redesign is expected to reduce the aircraft's stall speed by nearly 40-kph. Also, the stall will result in a sharp easily recognizable nose drop prompting the pilot to take recovery action.

The Sitara was also plagued by a sharp wingdrop short of stall. During DefExpo 2014 an HAL rep told me that HAL had identified the point on the wing where the boundary layer flow was  turning turbulent and breaking up, leading to the wing drop. HAL had planned to use boundary layer energizing strakes to remedy the problem.

Meanwhile, the aircraft's Saturn AL-55I, made specially for India by Russia, has been stall tested.

It's interesting to note that sections of the Indian media have repeatedly reported that the IAF is all set to dump the Sitara and purchase Textron's Scorpion trainer and counter insurgency aircraft.

The TOI in April 2015 carried a particularly alarming report saying that the Sitara's operational clearance maybe delayed by another four-to-five years, as the IJT would require major structural changes, including increase in airframe length as well as addition of another 305-kg to the already overweight plane, to resolve the stall-and-spin problem.

"The IJT has been declared unfit for spin, even by foreign consultants like BAE Systems, after spending around Rs 4,500 crore on it," a source reportedly told the TOI.

It now appears that the reports were highly speculative, and conceivably motivated.

Sections of the Indian media went overboard with the disinformation campaign after the IAF on April 4, 2014 released a Request for Information (RFI) for an Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) that would be used primarily for Stage-2 training of its pilots with a secondary counter insurgency role.

The IAF was merely hedging its bet on the IJT with the RFI.

RM Manohar Parrikar told parliament on March 20, 2015 that the IJT has encountered some design problems. Project implementation is regularly reviewed by a Steering Committee headed by Secretary, Department of Defense Production to expedite the same. IAF is looking at other options including life extension of Kiran aircraft to meet Intermediate flying training requirements of pilots.

IDP Sentinel members can read more at Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) Sitara HJT-36 - IDP Sentinel

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

IAF Jaguar Upgrade - The Basics

Jaguar with proposed upgrade engine Honeywell F-125IN at Aero India 2013
The Tribune reported on September 9, 2015 that certain issues "over offset clauses involving HAL" were holding up the contract with Honeywell for upgrade of Jaguar engines; these have now been resolved, paving the way for commercial and technical negotiations to start.

Need for Upgrade

The IAF currently operates around 110 (5 1/2 sqns) Jaguar strike fighters powered by Rolls-Royce Adour-811 turbofan engines. The aircraft, which first entered squadron service in the early 80s, is optimized for strike after low level penetration of contested airspace. At medium altitudes, the Jaguar's  maneuverability and acceleration are poor. As a result, the fighter is not suitable for stand-off close air support using Precision Guided Munition (PGM).

The IAF is making a doctrinal shift from specialized aircraft to multi-role aircraft, Based on fatigue analysis, the IAF estimates that Jaguars could remain operational till 2030. As a result, the IAF is keen to upgrade the Jaguar with more powerful engine, fourth-generation cockpit and mission avionics, and self protection suite so that it better fits IAF doctrinal thinking.

Upgraded Jaguars will feature all weather precision attack capability with enhanced weapon load.

Upgrade Features

The planned upgrade includes

  1. More powerful engines
  2. Higher capacity alternators
  3. Multi-mode radar
  4. Glass cockpit with DARIN-3 navigation and attack avionics suite HOTAS controls and improved HUD
  5. Auto Pilot
  6. Helmet mounted Display

An Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS) is being co-developed by the DRDO’s Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) and Cassidian (formerly EADS Defense Electronics). The suite includes DRDO developed Tarang radar warning receiver (RWR).

Engine Upgrade

The Honeywell F125IN has a max thrust of 43.8kN. In comparison, the existing Rolls-Royce Adour Mk811 engine has a thrust of 32.5kN.

The IAF is seeking a two phase contract with Honeywell. In Phase 1, Honeywell will modify two Jaguar aircraft to use its F-125IN engines.

During Phase 2, HAL will re-engine the remaining Jaguars using technology transferred by Honeywell.

The contract was estimated to be worth $700 million in 2011.

IDP Sentinel members can read more details at the link below.

Jaguar Upgrade - IDP Sentinel

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Phase-2 Floating Test Range Construction Underway

BMD Interceptor AAD-05 during 7th system test 
Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is gearing up for Phase-2 development of its Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system. To facilitate testing of BMD Phase-2 interceptor missile, DRDO has ordered construction of a floating test range (FTR) - a 10,000 ton ship that will be used to launch target missiles from far out in the sea.

Under BMD Phase-1, which is currently underway, DRDO would develop and deploy a system for defense against missiles with less than 2,000 km range like Pakistan's Ghauri and Shaheen missiles and China's solid-fuel Dongfeng-21 (NATO designation: CSS-5).

Under BMD Phase-2, system capability will be upgraded to defend against missiles with ranges greater than 2,000 km that can additionally deploy decoys or maneuver.

Additional Test Range Requirements

India currently has two missile test ranges at Chandipur and Wheeler Island.

Test of BMD Phase-2 system would require two ranges placed well apart along the missile trajectory. DRDO is developing the two new missile ranges at Machilipatnam in Seema Andhra and Rutland Island in the Andamans.

Target missiles would be launched from specially constructed ships. Besides a launch pad for the target missile, the ship will be fitted with associated systems such as radar, mission control center, launch control center, communication network and numerous other equipment.

The FTR would enable DRDO scientists to conduct realistic BMD tests without the need to evacuate a large number of people. It will make testing more realistic by allowing DRDO to freely chose target missile trajectory.

Construction and operationalization of the floating range / ship would take at least three to four years.

A DRDO scientist told The Hindu, the FTR "will pave the way for conducting trials for different trajectories, varying altitudes and also for higher ranges. We can go up to 1,000-1,500 km without any problem. Currently, we have to conduct simulation tests for longer ranges."

Ocean Surveillance Ship

In December 2014 MoD sanctioned Rs 725 crore for the construction of Ocean Surveillance Ship (OSS) at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL), Visakhapatnam as part of DRDO's BMD program

The ship, P-11184, will feature a helicopter deck and hangar, a long open deck with space for several tracking antennae located at the aft of the forward superstructure.

Dedicated to DRDO's BMD program, the ship will be operated by the Indian Navy.

Designed by Vik Sandvik Design India, the ship has a length of 175 m, a beam of 22 m, a depth of 6 m and and a displacement of over 10,000 tons. It will be powered by 2 x 9,000 kw engines, giving it a maximum speed of 21 knots.

The OSS project is classified and monitored directly by the Prime Minister’s Office. The ship’s keel was laid on June 30, 2014 and the shipyard has been given a timeline of December, 2015 to finish the project.

IDP Sentinel members can read more at the link below

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System (IDP Sentinel)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Russia Displays Innovative Asymmetric Counter Stealth Systems at MAKS-2015

KRET EW Systems on display at MAKS-2015

Russian EW systems displayed at MAKS 2015 suggest that Russia has adopted a low cost, asymmetric approach to counter the threat posed by the soon to be deployed F-35 fighters, which features low observability (LO)  and sensor fusion.

A low observable (LO) fighter can escape detection only if it keeps its radar switched off, or under emission control (EMCON). To penetrate contested airspace and attack targets, the LO fighter relies on an AWACS positioned in the rear, which streams the air and ground situation over a directional and encrypted data link. The LO fighter uses its sensor fusion capability to fuse the information obtained from the AWACS sensors with the information obtained through its own passive (ESM, EO) sensors to track and engage adversary targets.

An F-35 strike force under AWACS cover would be able to detect and engage non stealthy  Russian fighters -  MiG-35, Su-30, Su-35 - well before the Russian fighters detected the presence of the strike force. The F-35s would detect the Russian fighter radar emissions from as far away as 300-nm. Non emitting Russian fighters would be picked up by the F-35 strike force support AWACS from 150-nm.

Even if the Russian fighters were also supported with AWACS, the F-35s LO would delay detection till around 90-nm.

The challenge to Russia from US LO fighters is formidable, but it's noteworthy that LO is fundamentally an ECM technique. LO fighters deflect radar emissions away from the transmitter, instead of bouncing them back to the transmitter.

If LO is ECM then common wisdom hold that every ECM has a ECCM!

The Russians have chosen to negate US advantage, not by building analogs, but by reverting to fundamentals.

A stealthy F-35 strike force threatens ground targets so why oppose it from the air? Putting powerful jammers and passive locators on the ground in the proximity of high value targets that the adversary fears and wants to target would be a logical. Ground based systems have practically no size and weight constraints, as long as mobility is ensured.

What the Russians appear to be doing is:

  1. Fielding powerful ground based jammers to degrade AWACS sensors, data links, RF missile sensors.
  2. Fielding ground based passive emission locating systems that constrain enemy use of radar. 
  3. Developing UAVs featuring UHF, L, S radars to unmask LO fighter aircraft
  4. Fielding more sensitive Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS) on their fighters.

The following are some of the new weapon systems displayed at MAKS 2015 that are focused on mitigating the threat posed by the advent of F-35s in large number along Russian borders.

Krasukha Jammer at KRET pavilion at MAKS-2015

Krasukha EW System

The Krasukha is a mobile, ground-based broadband multi-functional jamming station and spoofing system developed by KRET. The system analyzes the type of signal and responds by jamming it with a powerful, smart interfering emission, preventing adversary radar sensors from detecting targets and guiding weapons to them.

There are two variants of the system: Krasukha-2 and Krasukha-4, the latter being a higher power longer range system.

Krasukha is effective against the entire spectrum of RF dependent weapon systems. It can jam radars (ground, low orbit satellite, AWACS, Fighter, UAV, Missile), data links and satellite links. Krasukha RF suppression makes PGM guidance impossible.

The system can vary jamming intensity to extremes and is capable of damaging electronics through brute force pumping of RF energy into enemy system. Krasukha can also be subtle; for example, it can generate false targets to spoof missile RF sensors.

Jamming range for AWACS is claimed to be 300-km for the Krasukha-2 system, and 400-km for the Krasukha-4 system.

Krasukha systems were developed to protect high value targets on the move, such as the Russian tactical missile Iskander (SS-26), while on the move.

LO UAV to Detect LO Fighters

Russia's UAC is reportedly developing a LO UAV designed to detect stealth aircraft using X-band and UHF radars. The project is an analog of China’s “Divine Eagle” project.

The Russian UAV would detect LO aircraft such as as Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35 and Northrop Grumman B-2.

KRET is developing a deeply-integrated electronic warfare system that would create a protective electromagnetic sphere around the UAV to counter air-to-air missiles and cloak it from radars.


The Avtovaza-M is a Emitter Location System (ELS) that can passively detect and track adversary aircraft facilitating engagement by AD missiles. The system comprises five vehicles spread over tens of kilometer, interconnected over low-power, low-probability-of-intercept  communication link using antennas mounted on tall masts.

Avtobaza-M uses time-difference-of-arrival (TDOA) processing to locate targets with a precision that is about 2% of detection range, and operates from 200 MHz to 18 GHz and has a range of up to 150-km.

In its basic configuration, Avtovaza-M includes four autonomous SOP (Stantsiya obnaruzheniya i pelengovaniya) detection and direction finding stations and one SOI (Stantsiya obrabotki informatsii) information processing station (ESM), mounted on Kamaz-63501 four-axle military trucks.

TDOA systems can locate targets with three stations, but the Avtovaza system uses up to five, to provide redundancy and resolve ambiguities.

The system can detect, analyze and track IFF, TACAN, pulse and continuous onboard radar emissions, and determine radar types for air and sea surface targets, and then disseminate all of this data up the air defense chain.

The whole system can be set up or made ready to redeploy in 45 minutes, with just 3 to 5 minutes to bring it into combat readiness.

The Avtobaz system is believed to have been used by Iran to bring down an American RQ-170.

The usefulness of an ELS system is often underrated because it cannot detect or track a non emitting aircraft - for example, an adversary fighter with its radar, IFF and JTIDS/Link-16 switched off. The point overlooked is that with  its radar or data link offline, the adversary fighter wouldn't be able to engage  targets!


The Moscow-1, the successor to the Avtobaza-M ELS, can detect targets at a distance of 400 km, as against Avtovaza's maximum range of 150 km. 

Moscow-1 system is operated by a crew of 4 and consists of three trucks including an ESM vehicle (IL265E) and an airborne radar jammer (IL2663). The station is able to provide 360-degree visibility and can be deployed in 45 minutes.

You can see more pictures of the Krasukha system at this AW&ST link.


If the above logic behind powerful ground based EW systems is sound, why has the US not developed such weapon systems. 

Bill Sweetman in his audio-interview (link below) attributes it to the expeditionary nature of US forces. US ground troops are loathe to carry around anything larger than a Humvee sized vehicle, says Sweetman.

A KRET official confirms as much in a more recent interview, excerpted below from a Google translation.

Apparently this is explained by the history of US involvement in military conflicts. They are known in their territory do not fight, and are mainly involved in any global or local military conflicts far from their borders. Therefore, the terrestrial EW they never paid as much attention as we do. Perhaps this is also dictated by the current military doctrine there. We have a different doctrine, is defensive in nature, so the means of electronic intelligence and management of land-based we have developed very well. We can say - as anywhere in the world. 

Bill Sweetman on how Russia is countering US Advantages
Russian EW Systems - IDP Sentinel members only link

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

DRDO's Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) Program & LASTEC's Aditya Project

DRDO's CHESS (Center for High Energy Systems and Science), Hyderabad is developing Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) systems for use by the Indian Armed Forces (AFs).

Laser Science and Technology Center (LASTEC) is developing laser source technologies for Directed Energy Weapon (DEW), as also for dazzling and imaging applications. 

LASTEC Capability Development

LASTEC has developed core technologies including Gas Dynamic Laser (GDL) and Chemical Oxygen Iodine Lasers (COIL) and demonstrated 100 kW (multi mode) GDL and 20 kW (single mode) COIL sources.

LASTEC's Aditya Gas Dynamic High Power Laser based Directed Energy System

LASTEC's Aditya project was an experimental test bed to seed the critical DEW technologies. The Gas Dynamic High Power laser based Directed Energy System can be broadly divided into two major subsystems: 

  1. Laser Power Source
  2. Beam Delivery System 

The Laser beam used in a DEW is subject to attenuation (loss of intensity) due to atmospheric air and jitter due to the turbulence within the atmospheric air. The damage caused by the beam progressively reduces with target distance.

In order to cause the stipulated damages at 0.8 km and 2.5 km distance using a 0.7 m aperture telescope, laser power of the order of 100 kW is required . The beam delivery system has to simultaneously perform several roles. It acquires and tracks the distant static and moving target in real time and points and focuses the laser beam on the target. The adaptive optical system has to compensate for the jitter and wave front distortion of the laser beam from the source.

The technology related to laser source, beam delivery and issues related to system integration on mobile platforms were addressed during the execution of the Aditya project which will provide useful input to future laser weapon programs of DRDO

You can read more about the Aditya project here.

DEW for Use Against UAVs

One of the DEW weapon systems being developed would target UAV's.

Project Progress

In July 2015, CHESS invited tenders for 3 radio control (RC) aero models with minimum wingspan of 1600-mm, min. wing area of 800 sq in., and min fuselage length of 1200-mm. The aero-models should be able to fly at altitudes in excess of 400-m.

It's likely that the procurement is aimed at field testing the IIR sight CHESS has developed for its anti UAV weapon. Typically battlefield mini UAVs fly at around 1000-ft AGL in order to stay clear of small arm fire.

Earlier on March 2, 2015 CHESS invited tenders for Off-axis concave and convex parabolic mirrors.

The concave mirror is required to have a parent focal length of 2000mm and mirror diameter of 150mm, while the convex mirror is required to have a parent focal length of 200mm and a mirror diameter of 25mm.

In early July 2015, DRDO's IRDE (Instruments Research & Development Establishment), Dehradun invited tenders for supply of High Resolution thermal imager for CHESS platform.

The IRDE tender seeks a Thermal Imager based on Pelican-D 640x512 MWIR IDDCA with 14.5X zoom capability. The Imager is required to have recognition range capability of 5-km against a 1.5m x 3m  UAV target.

IDDCA (Interleaved Double Dynamical Clustering Analysis) is a sampling algorithm based on clustering.

It appears that the imager being sought by IRDE would be used to aim a DEW developed by CHESS for use against UAVs.

Indian Navy's Interest in DEW

An HT report dated July 20, 2015 quoted a senior navy officer as saying that the Navy plans to develop and deploy high-energy lasers and high-power microwave weapons on Navy ships.

"The navy’s policy and plans wing has identified directed-energy weapons as a key long-term development project. We are sharpening focus on it,” said another officer familiar with the plan.

IDP Sentinel members can read additional details on DRDO's DEW project at

Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) Systems (IDP Sentinel)

Monday, August 31, 2015

MTA Proposed to Feature German Communication Equipment

MTA Model during DefExp 2014

During MAKS-2015, Russia's NPP Polyot is reported to have discussed with the German company Rohde & Schwarz the possibility of joint development of communication equipment for the Russian-Indian military-transport aircraft MTA.

A NPP Polyot official reportedly said, "We have confirmed the intention to work together, have prepared our proposal to the Indian side for the next round of negotiations."

Rohde & Schwarz, which has an Indian subsidiary, makes secure communication products such as Software Defined Radios as well as test equipment for avionics and navigation assemblies.

NPP Polyot earlier discussed communication requirements, including data links, for the MTA and FGFA with IAF officials during Aero India 2015.

For those who may have missed the point, the big news is that the much delayed MTA project is still live and kicking!

IDP Sentinel members can read more at the link below

Multi Role Transport Aircraft (MTA)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

HSL - Hyundai Tie Up for Construction of Fleet Support Ship (FSS)

INS Shakti Sattahip, Thailand on June 23, 2015
The Hindu reported on August 25, 2015 that Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) are likely to undertake joint construction of Fleet Support Ship (FSS) for the Indian Navy (IN).

“Our plan is to construct one FSS at Hyundai by sending a team from our yard to South Korea to enable them to gain expertise. Later with the guidance of Hyundai, we want to build four FSS here,” HSL Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral N.K. Mishra told The Hindu.

The DAC on July 19, 2014 cleared the acquisition of 5 FSS by the Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 9,000 crores.

The vessels would be used by the Navy to support the operations of carrier groups planned for the future.


The Navy wants ships to be capable of following:

  1. Transfer of FOLS to all Naval Surface Units while underway at sea using abeam and astern transfer methods.
  2. Transfer all types of stores, victuals and personnel to naval units while underway at sea.
  3. Ships should be capable of handling multirole helicopter at sea.


The principal dimensions of the ships should be:

  1. Length Overall - About 200 m. 
  2. Beam Max - About 25 m. 
  3. Displacement (Fully Loaded) 40,000-t


FSS would  have a speed of 16 knots, range of 12,000 nautical miles and a service of 30 years with capability to carry ballistic weapons.

The ship should have Diesel propulsion (CODAD), with a single shaft configuration with CPP and must be equipped with a Helo deck and support facilities to handle Multi Role Helicopter.

It must be crewed by 190 sailors, including 24 officers.

Navantia and L&T Joint Proposal

It was earlier reported that Spain's state-run Navantia has tied up with L&T for the project to offer the Fleet Replenishment Ship ESPS Cantabria of the Spanish Navy.

Navantia collaborated with the French DCNS to build six Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Dock Ltd. (MDL).

Navantia and L&T are working jointly on building four LPDs like INS Jalashwa for amphibious military operations and disaster relief for the Indian Navy.

IDP Sentinel members can track progress on the project at Fleet Support Ships (FSS) (IDP Sentinel)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Russia Focuses on Defense Against Attack from Space

MiG-31E fighter

Recent comments by Russian officials on new weapon systems being developed by the country suggest a sharp focus on defense against attack from space.

In an interview to the Russian press published on August 23, 2015, MiG CEO Sergey Korotkov alluded that the MiG-31 replacement, the PAK-DP 5th gen fighter, will feature aerospace defense capability.

The following is the Google translation of what Sergey Korotkov reportedly said.

"Today, it is obvious that after some time will change the nature of the threats posed by means of air and aerospace attack. There will be a part of their integration, which will require the creation of new remedies. Management understands that state. Confirmation is the creation of a new kind of Armed Forces - air and space forces of Russia.

"Fighter-interceptor - the most effective means of protecting the mobile aerospace. I believe that this trend will develop. I note that our designers have unique competence in this area."

RIA Novosti reported today, August 25, 2015, that Russia is developing a new multilevel system of electronic warfare, designed to counter means of air and space attack,

The news agency quoted Vladimir Mikheev, the adviser to the deputy head of Russia's Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies (KRET) as saying, "KRET plans to begin this year, and end next year, state testing of a fundamentally new system of electronic warfare, aimed at jamming the most modern means and systems for air and space attacks."

Recent organizational changes in Russian defense organizational structure reiterate the focus on aerospace defense.

Aerospace Defense Forces

On August 1, 2015, Russia announced that it is merging the Russian Air Force into Aerospace Defense Forces.

Aerospace Defense Forces now controls Air Force proper, Air Defense, ABM, and the Space Forces.

Aerospace Defense Forces (Voyska Vozdushno-Kosmicheskoy Oborony or VKO) was created on December 1, 2011 from Space Forces, and made responsible for air and missile defense, and the operation of Russian military satellites and the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

Russia's hyper concern over attack from space leaves one wondering as to the nature of the threat perceived by them - Kinetic,  electronic or both? Is the US super secretive space plane X-37 a source of Russian concerns?

What exactly do the Russians fear? Guided projectiles released from space, or are they merely set on neutralizing the advantage accruing to US weapon systems from investments in GPS, space based sensors and high bandwidth satellite based data links?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Evolution of Fighter Aircraft Radar - Dish Anetenna to AESA

Phazotron Zhuk AE AESA radar at Aero India 2011
Jet fighters began to be equipped with airborne radars in the early 1960's. Radars provided better detection capability than human eyes and facilitated guidance of air to air missiles which could be used to attack enemy fighters at ranges considerably larger than the few hundred yards that aircraft cannons were effective up to.

Dish Antenna Radars

Early jet fighter, like the MiG-21, employed mechanically steered concave reflector antennas colloquially referred to as dish antennas. A concave reflector antenna is a simple and effective solution for generating a shaped radar beam as well as efficiently gathering any reflected energy from it.

Dish antennas, however, have their limitations. Their to and fro steering mechanisms are expensive to fabricate to the high accuracies required. Such steering mechanisms are also prone to frequent failures. In other words they have a relatively short Mean Times Between Failure (MTBF) of around 60 to 300 hours.

Another problem with dish antennas radars is that they have fairly large side-lobes which leads to signal losses and reduces their sensitivity.

Finally, dish antennas do a good job not just of shaping their transmitter beams and gathering reflected energy from it but they are equally efficient at reflecting radar energy from enemy radars! In other words they are as good with detecting the enemy as they are with letting the enemy detect them.

The Evolving Threat

Initially jet fighters were equipped with airborne radars purely for air to air combat. As long as the threat that a fighter aircraft was attempting to counter were enemy fighter aircrafts, first generation radars with dish antennas were effective. However, the introduction of long range cruise missiles by the former Soviet Union in the 1970s changed the equation dramatically. The smaller size of the cruise missile, and the consequent reduced radar signature gave cruise missiles a good chance of penetrating the fighter air cover over US carrier groups and hitting home with devastating effects.

In order to effectively engage cruise missile the detection and guidance capability of an airborne radar needed to be stepped up dramatically.

As the threat evolved so did airborne radars. In order to reduce the sidelobes associated with dish antennas as well as reduce their reflectivity planar or slotted array antennas began to be developed in the 1970s.

Planar Array Antennas

Planar array antennas, like dish antennas, are also mechanically steered but they use a flat rather than concave receiver to gather the reflected radar energy. A flat panel reflector scatters the radar energy impinging on it from hostile radars, rather than sending it back as a well focused beam.

Zhuk-ME Slotted Planar radar fitted on IAF MiG-29 fighters.

Planar arrays use an array of very simple slot antennas. They achieve their focusing effect by introducing and manipulating a time delay into transmissions from each antenna.  A complex network of microwave waveguides on the rear surface of the array is used to achieve this. The controlled time delays result in a desired fixed beam shape with much smaller sidelobes compared to a concave reflecting antenna. The key to slotted array antennas is the time delay caused by waveguides. The signal that they transmit is in phase.

Since a planar array antenna is a flat plate, it tends to act like a flat panel reflector to impinging transmissions from hostile radars and thus produce a lower radar signature than a concave antenna.

However, mechanical steering of planar array antennas continued to be a problem.

The Zhuk-ME radar developed by Phazotron-NIIR design burea and fitted on the MiG-29 is an example of slotted array antenna radar. Similarly the AN/APG-65/73 radar fitted on the F/A-18A and the APG-66 radar fitted on the F-16A are slotted array radars.

Phased Array / Passive Electronically Steered Array (PESA) Radar

The key to improving radar capability lay in electronic steering of the radar beam a technique that first began to be employed in ground based anti missile radars in the 1970s. Such radars employ a group of antennas in which the relative phases of the respective signals feeding the antennas are varied in such a way that the effective radiation pattern of the array is reinforced in a desired direction and suppressed in undesired directions. Such radars are referred to as phased array radars, since they employ an array of antennas that work using a shift in the signal phase.

Antenna of NIIP N-011M Bars phased array radar fitted on the Su-30MKI

By the early 1980s the technology had been mastered to an extent where it could be employed in airborne radars.

Electronic steering and shaping of a beam provides unprecedented beam agility - beam shape and direction can be digitally controlled by a computer within a matter of tens of milliseconds. Such beam agility makes it possible for one phased array radar to act as multiple radars each with its own beam shape and scan pattern! This is referred to as interleaving radar modes. The same radar can be tracking for airborne threats using one beam shape and scan pattern while searching for ground targets using another beam shape and scan pattern.

The Russian NIIP N-011M Bars radar fitted on the Su-30MKI is a phased array radar. The B-1B Bone has flown since the 1980s with an AN/APQ-164 radar, fitted with an electronically steered array. The B-1A Batwing also exploits this technology in its AN/APQ-181 multimode attack radar.

One out of the 24 antennas in the array fitted NIIP N-011M Bars radar fitted on the Su-30MKI

Phased array radar, also referred to as passive array radars, represent a big leap forwards. Using beam steering they provide stealth, interleaving modes and reliability. However, the shift in phase of the radar signal comes at a cost. High-power phase control leads to losses in the signal and a consequent reduction in radar sensitivity. Typical total losses in early systems resulted in a factor of 10 reductions in radiated power; in modern systems these losses are still in the factor of 5 ranges.


An Active Electronically Steered Array (AESA) takes the concept of using an array antenna a step further. Instead of shifting the phase of signals from a single high power transmitter AESA employs a grid of hundreds of small "transmitter-receiver (TR)" modules that are linked together by high-speed processors.

Thales RBE2 AESA radar fitted on Rafale

Each TR module has its own transmitter, receiver, processing power, and a small spike like radiator antenna on top. The TR module can be programmed to act as a transmitter, receiver, or radar. The TR modules in the AESA system can all work together to create a powerful radar, but they can do different tasks in parallel, with some operating together as a radar warning receiver, others operating together as a jammer, and the rest operating as a radar. TR modules can be reassigned to any role, with output power or receiver sensitivity of any one of the "subsystems" defined by such temporary associations proportional to the number of modules.

AESA provides 10-30 times more net radar capability plus significant advantages in the areas of range resolution, countermeasure resistance and flexibility. In addition, it supports high reliability / low maintenance goals, which translate into lower lifecycle costs. Since the power supplies, final power amplification and input receive amplification, are distributed, MTBF is significantly higher, 10-100 times, than that of a passive ESA or mechanical array. This results in higher system readiness and significant savings in terms of life cycle cost of a weapon system, especially a fighter.

The use of multiple TR modules also means failure of up to 10% of the TR modules in an AESA will not cause the loss of the antenna function, but merely degrade its performance. From a reliability and support perspective, this graceful degradation effect is invaluable. A radar which has lost several TR modules can continue to be operated until scheduled downtime is organized to swap the antenna.

Technological Leap

AESA technology has not been easy to acquire. It has come from years of research and heavy investments. Improvement of gallium arsenide material and the development of monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) have been key enablers to the development of AESA technology.

Two prominent early programs in X-band AESA technology development have been the Army family-of-radars program (which provided the basis for the X-band AESAs in the THAAD and GBR radars for theater and national missile defense systems, respectively), and the Air Force programs to produce X-band AESAs for the F-15 and the F-22. The investments in JSF radar technology have also fostered pivotal advances in reducing cost, weight, and mechanical complexity. JSF transmit/receive (T/R) modules are referred to as "fourth generation" T/R module technology.

As can be expected, the technology comes at a cost. Each TR module is an independent radar. Initial cost of a TR module was reportedly around $2000. Fighter radars are usually in the 1000 to 2000 modules size range. In other words just the radar antenna could cost as much as $4 million.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

RFP for Air Defense Guns and Ammunition Likely in September

L-70 Towed AD Gun of the Indian Army
As a prelude to issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Air Defense Gun (Successor) with Ammunition, the Indian Army has invited vendors desirous of competing for the contract to submit information (Appendix E) as per Para 24(d) of Chapter 1 of DPP-2013 by 13 September 2015.

The Army released a RFI from OEMs/Vendors in India in April 2014 for a gun that is capable of engaging air targets during day and night using Fire Control Radar and  Electro Optical Fire Control System (EOFCS). The gun should also be capable of engaging air targets passively, without the Fire Control Radar. Preferred gun caliber is 30-mm or above; the guns are required to be broad gauge transportation compatible.

The Army wants a gun that can effectively engage targets in mountainous terrain.

MOD reportedly sent the RFI to Tata Power SED, Larsen & Toubro, Punj Lloyd, Bharat Forge, and state-owned Ordinance Factory Board (OFB) and Bharat Earth Movers.

The Indian Army is planning to procure towed Air Defense (AD) Guns and ammunition along with Maintenance Transfer of Technology (MToT). The project involves manufacture of 1,102 AD guns over the next 15 years to replace the 1950s vintage L-70 acquired from Swedish firm Bofors and the Zu-23mm acquired from USSR's Podolsky Electromechanical plant.

In the first stage, the manufacturer will have to supply the army with 428 guns over the next five years. Several lakh rounds of ammunition would need to be manufactured in India.

IDP Sentinel members can read details at the following link.

Towed Air Defense (AD) Guns (IDP Sentinel)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Su-30MKI vs Eurofighter Typhoon - The Truth is Nuanced, but the Brits Won't Like it Anyway!

IAF Su-30MKI and RAF Typhoon during Indradhanush-4

Did the Su-30MKI outmaneuver the Eurofighter Typhoon 12-0 within visual range (WVR) combat during Indradhanush 4, as stated by Group Captain Ashu Srivastav, who led the IAF Indradhanush-4 detachment to RAF Coningsby, to NDTV?

Certainly, yes! IAF pilots are not inclined to make false claims, or indulge in wanton exaggerate.

Does that mean the Su-30MKI is superior to the Typhoon in aerial combat? Certainly, not!

Aerial combat is replete with factors - ponderable and imponderable - that change its outcome. It does not fit a True or False scenario. The response to a question such as which aircraft is better in combat has got to be nuanced.

Ashu Srivastav's inputs to NDTV were precise and very professional. He said that the IAF Su-30MKI aircrew outperformed RAF Typhoon pilots in 1 vs 1 and 2 vs 1 WVR combat using close combat missiles (CCM) within a range of two miles.

The CCM restriction implied that the engagements involved low energy combat, a flight envelope in which the Su-30MKI excels because of  thrust vectoring.

An unnamed RAF source quoted by The Independent has countered Ashu Srivastav's statement saying, "There must have been some clouded recollection on the flights back to India. The headlines of the Indian press bear no relation to the results of the tactical scenarios completed on the exercise in any shape or form."

The response lacks precision and is characteristic of British vagueness and verbosity that gets accentuated in the face of embarrassing truths.

The Independent source went on to say, "The Su-30MKI is one of the aircraft that the Typhoon was designed to tackle and defeat, and no doubt in the right hands would present a potent challenge. Today [though] the aim would be to engage aircraft like the Su-30MKI from long-range before the two could come together in a dogfight."

The second statement by the RAF source is on the mark, just as Ashu Srivastav's 12-0 victory claim is on the mark.

A quick comparison of the Su-30MKI and Eurofighter Typhoon combat capabilities should put the apparently contradictory claims in the correct perspective.

IAF Su-30MKI with its IRST prominently visible during Indradhansuh-4 

Su-30MKI vs Eurofighter Typhoon

WVR Combat

Su-30MKI excels in WVR low energy combat because of thrust vectoring. The Typhoon outperforms the Su-30MKI in high energy WVR combat because of its better thrust to weight ratio and high speed turn performance.

BVR Combat

The Typhoon is superior in Beyond Vision Range (BVR) combat because of the following reasons:

  1. Its Captor M radar emissions are more difficult to detect, track and spoof than those of the Su-30MKIs BARS radar.
  2. Its Attack and Identification System (AIS) provides better situational awareness and threat handling.
  3. It has a significantly smaller radar signature than the Su-30MKI.

Typhoon's AIS includes sensor fusion wherein data from multiple sensors  - the fighter's Captor radar, PIRATE Infrared Search and Track System (IRST) and EW suite, as well as off-board radars (AWACS, ASTOR, JSTARS, even other Typhoons) over datalink - is displayed on a single MFD, reducing pilot workload and confusion. AIS automatically exercises Captor radar emissions control (EMCON) based on the composite threat scenario.

The Su-30MKI doesn't feature AIS and sensor fusion, but has a weapon system operators to monitor and act upon inputs from on and off board sensors. A man in the loop can add value, or confusion depending on the training and emotional state, as well as the complexity of the threat scenario.

Because of its significantly larger size, the Su-30MKI has a bigger radar signature. The larger cross-sectional area of the fuselage in front of the cockpit allows the Su-30MKI to carry a more powerful radar, but the high radiated energy of the radar allows it to be passively detected and identified at longer ranges giving the adversary an advantage.

RAF's Eurofighter Typhoon with its IRST during Indradhanush4

Hypothetical Combat Tactics

In view of the above, here is how a Typhoon pilot would engage an adversary Su-30MKI in war.

The Typhoon pilot would attempt to leverage to the hilt his aircraft's superior BVR combat capability. He would keep his CAPTOR radar on automatic EMCON and focus on passively tracking a Su-30MKI using its BARS radar emission,  or in case the Su-30MKIs BARS was switched off, an offboard radar. A Typhoon could track a Su-30MKI with a radiating radar from 300-km. A Su-30MKI with its radar switched off could be tracked from around 180-km using AWACS data link.

When in range, the Typhoon would engage the Su-30MKI with BVR missiles. Adversary Su-30MKI would remain oblivious to the presence of the Typhoon till he sees the missile coming at him!

In case initial BVR missile engagements are thwarted by Su-30MKI jamming or decoys, the Typhoon would try and acquire the adversary Su-30MKI on his PIRATE IRST and use his BVR missiles. Close to a merge, the Typhoon would disengage and getaway, choosing to fight another day.

When faced with adversary Typhoons, a Su-30MKI pilot would keep his BARS switched off and rely almost exclusively on an off-board radar (AWACS or another radiating Su-30MKI) to passively track the Typhoon and engage it with its BVR missiles. If BVR missiles fail to score, he would keep closing in to a range where his IRST picks up the Typhoon, and then take more shots at the Typhoon.

The Typhoon's ability to automatically fuse inputs from multiple sensors would facilitate more accurate tracking of the target and guidance of the BVR missile, giving the Typhoon a definite advantage over the Su-30MKI during BVR combat.

Because of the Su-30MKI's bigger radar signature, an AWACS supporting the Typhoon would pick up the Su-30MKI before the AWACS supporting the Su-30MKI picked up the Typhoon. This would give the Typhoon more advantage.

Without AWACS on both sides, IRST detection ranges will prove critical to the outcome of the combat.

With AWACS, the game will be one sided in favor of the Typhoon till IRST pickups. In case of a merge and WVR combat, the game will rapidly become one sided in favor of Su-30MKI.

What we have looked at is a 1 vs 1 scenario. In real life air-combat tends to be a melee. If the BVR engagements are ineffective due to EW and other countermeasures, there will be accidental merges galore, whether the Typhoon pilots like it or not!

The question really is - How effective would be BVR engagements between two well trained adversaries in the prevailing scenario?

Additional Observations on Indradhanush 4

The Su-30MKI's IRST reportedly proved to be a distinct advantage for IAF aircrew during WVR combat during Indradhanush-4.

It appears that IAF aircrew used their IRSTs more than their eyeballs to track their adversary while maneuvering in WVR combat, which helped them avoid the pitfall of bleeding energy levels excessively, as they reportedly did during the last Red Flag exercise.

A training exercise such as Indradhanush is aimed at improving pilot skills. It would involve some leveling of the playing field so as to keep the focus on skill development. For example, it could be assumed that both the sides have close combat missiles with similar off bore-sight capability. Missile capabilities - CCM or BVR - differ. In a war the outcome of an aerial combat would depend a lot on weapon systems employed, in addition to aircraft capability and pilot skills.

To summarize

Su-30MKI excels in WVR low energy combat, Typhoon in standoff & WVR high energy combat.
The equation could be significantly altered by EW surprises, giving an adversary temporary advantage.

AWACS backed IAF Su-30MKIs adhering to strict EMCON could negate some Typhoon BVR combat advantages, but overall the Typhoon is a better BVR combat aircraft.

The IAF Su-30MKI have regained a lot of the respect that it lost in Indradhanush 3 and the last Red Flag exercise in the US. It appears that the IAF has put in a lot of thought and training to regain confidence in the Su-30MKI.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

VRDE Developing BMP-2 Sarath Upgrade

Kayani Group's BMP-2 upgrade concept at DefExpo 2014

Vehicle Research & Development Establishment (VRDE) has released a tender seeking a development partner for upgrade of BMP-2 Sarath ICV's 30mm Gun turret stabilizer system and development of an interfaced Gunner & Commander sighting system.

The vendor would be required to prove the complete system on the Sarath ICV by demonstrating target acquisition, aiming & firing on the halt and on the move at a static or moving ground & aerial target with an accuracy of 1mil or better.

The Development Partner (DP) would be required to:

  1. Develop twin axis stabilized Gunner’s Main sight
  2. Develop twin axis stabilized Commander’s Panoramic sight.
  3. Engineer Modification on the turret to suitably replace existing Gunner sight and Commander Aerial sight with developed Gunner Sight and Commander sighting system & associated sensors in the same envelope of existing sighting system.
  4. Develop & Fabricate necessary adapters for mounting of sights and sensors.
  5. Interface sighting system with Stabilizer.
  6. Engineer modifications to stabilizer to interface with sighting systems.
  7. Adopt of existing Control Handles & other MMIs for operation of complete FCS.
  8. Develop FCS, software modifications; incorporate range tables and switch configurations in existing gunner & commander control handles to enable firing of various ammunition from the main gun & co axial weapon from Gunner and Commander sight.
  9. Evolve various modes of operation such as commander master, gunner master, target designation, Sight master, Gun Stabilizer master.
  10. Supply Gunner & Commander Stations.

In addition, the vendor would be responsible for testing and trials of the systems.

The existing Stabilizer specifications and functionality need to be retained. The modifications need to be carried out in stabilizer system for interfacing & integration with Commander’s Panoramic sight and gunner sight retaining existing modes of operation. The vendor shall have complete know how of existing stabilizer system. No armor cutting on turret will be carried out for fitment of sighting system and associated Electronics.

Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) Modernisation

Indian Army released a Request for Information (RfI) on October 21, 2014  from vendors willing to undertake Comprehensive Upgrade of BMP-2/2K covering Mobility, Fire Power and Survivability. The upgrade will be applied to approximately 2,600 vehicles comprising existing inventory as well as APCs to be produced in the future.

Foreign vendors are free to compete directly for the procurement.

Firms bidding for the upgrade contract would be required to upgrade one BMP-2/2K for trials on “No Cost No Commitment” basis.

Russia exhibited its proposed upgrade of the BMP-2 ICV at DefExpo 2014.

The kit based Russian upgrade can be implemented at low cost and in short time. The upgrade requires minimal modifications of the tower. Additional weapon fit can be implemented in place on a BMP-2.

Pune based Kalyani Group pitched an upgraded BMP-2 Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) at the DefExpo 2014.. The upgraded BMP-2 features Rafael's Samson MkII remotely controlled weapon system with a 30mm cannon from ATK and two Spike LR missiles from Rafael. The turret, which features  two MiniPOP optronic sights for the gunner and commander, is designed to fit armor protection according to the level specified by the customer.

IDP Sentinel members can read more at the link below:

Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) Modernisation (IDP Sentinel)